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Don't even want watered-down version of Emanuel reform

Clout Street

Chicago aldermen today balked at an ethics reform bill proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, even after the mayor agreed to heavily dilute provisions after City Council members fretted about the potential use of anonymous complaints for political retribution.

Aldermen voted 25-3 to table the measure that Emanuel still hopes to get approved at next Wednesday’s City Council meeting. To help assure passage, his aides removed a section that allowed anonymous complaints against aldermen and their employees.

But aldermen said they still are concerned that signed and sworn complaints would not require review by the Board of Ethics before the council inspector general could launch an investigation — even though knowingly lying in such a complaint could lead to a $2,000 fine and six months in jail.

City Council members also said that they were given inadequate time to review the changes, which were altered just minutes before the meeting started — when aldermen were handed copies of the changes.

“I think the biggest resistance today was the fact that we got the substitute ordinance two minutes before the meeting started,” said Ald. Ricardo Munoz, 22nd. “It’s a 20-page document. We need a little time to review.”

Aldermen also complained about current inquiries by council Inspector General Faisal Khan, who has billed the city more than $300,000 for his work since being hired in November 2011.

Committee Chairman Richard Mell, 33rd, recessed the meeting until Monday, when he hopes to revive the measure. As soon as today’s meeting ended, mayoral aides descended onto the council floor to speak with aldermen.

One of the leaders of the charge against a vote today was Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th, a key mayoral ally. Many other aldermen who typically support the mayor voted in favor of tabling the measure.

Ald. Patrick O’Connor, 40th, the mayor’s floor leader, said the administration would have preferred a vote today. “It’s clear that the council has some questions,” he said. “It’s also clear  that this latest version came down a couple of minutes before the meeting started.”

“This didn’t really lend itself to the airing of concerns that were there, and this is probably a smarter way to handle it,” O’Connor said of the delay until Monday.


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